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March 2, 2016

Steamboat Springs Education Fund
POB 776047
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
RE: 2016-17 SSEF Applications
Dear Education Fund Board Members:
As you begin to review the funding requests from the school districts for the 2016-17 school
year, we feel compelled to share with you our continued concerns on your funding protocols and
processes. The first major concern is EFB’s continued change to the application process and
allocation of funding, without authority and contrary to the stated intent of Steamboat Springs
voters.
Based upon a review of the history of the sales and use tax that is administered by the EFB, it is
evident that in recent years the criteria and methods of allocating funds have significantly
strayed off course from the original intent of the measures that were approved by Steamboat
voters in 1993 and again in 2008. The recitals within the current agreement between the City
and the EFB make clear that the voters approved the tax for “educational purposes,” which in
1993 were intended for the benefit of the Steamboat Springs School District Re-2.
In 2008, the voters approved an advisory question to share some portion of the tax proceeds
with other “school districts in Routt County in addition to the Steamboat Springs RE-2 School
District.” A reading of Section 4 (b) of the agreement confirms the intent that these funds be
administered by and for the benefit of the school districts based upon “applications from the
school districts:” Section 4 (b) states:
“Pursuant to the ballot question approved by the registered electors in Steamboat Springs on
November 4, 2008, the City has authorized the ‘Steamboat Springs Education Fund to share, in
its sole discretion, some portion of the proceeds of the ½ cent sales tax with the other school
districts in Routt County in addition to the Steamboat Springs Re-2 School District.’ Therefore,
the Fund may consider grant applications from the South Routt County School District and the
Hayden School District, in addition to those grant applications submitted on behalf of the Re-2
School District. The City and the Fund interpret this authorization to mean, in conjunction with
legislative acts passed by the City in authorizing the various ballot questions since 1993, that
the Fund may approve grant requests for “public k-12 education” but is not obligated to adhere
to any formula allocation based upon any criteria. The parties share the belief that the primary
goal of the 1/2% sale/use tax for ‘educational purposes’ was, and should continue to be,
directed toward the educational needs of the students in the RE-2 School District, but not to the
exclusion of the students in other public k-12 schools within the county.”

Last year, the three superintendents requested of the fund board that awards not be granted to
community groups and innovation, until such time as the school districts’ requests were
submitted and awarded. Based on what has occurred with the awarding of community and
innovative grants for the potential sums of $180,000 and $25,000, obviously, the request of the
superintendents was not accepted. These figures also include what appears to be the imminent
awarding of $97,000 to Partners in Routt County’s request to continue with the mentor program.
This is occurring despite the superintendents informing Partners that the districts would not be
providing any more financial support to the program. We recognized their challenges with some
funding sources not being available, but an internal discussion with principals indicated that
more resources to Partners was not possible due to other district priorities.
This decision to proceed with community and innovative group awards is particularly
concerning knowing that the EFB was establishing a budget that was some $627,598 less than
last year. For Steamboat Springs, this has meant a reduction of over $550,000 in funding from
the EFB. As the school districts were looking at making reductions for 2016-17, it was noted at
a recent EFB meeting by several committee members, that the community groups were being
held whole as they would be receiving the same dollar amount as they did in the previous year.
The latest recommendation by the commission to proceed with an additional community fund
allocation of $75,000 is particularly alarming, when considering that increased revenue and
portions of school district allocations are being used to support Partners.
It was also our understanding that in order for a community group to be considered for funding
that there is to be an accompanying letter of support from the school district. According to the
Steamboat Springs principals, they did not write any letters of support for the seven (7) entities
receiving funding for 2016-17. However, they did sign a letter of support for the Northwest
Colorado Visiting Nurses Association program, which as you know, was rejected by the fund
board. This document is attached for your review.
Over the past several years, there has been a perception by some members of the fund board
and commission that the school districts couldn’t deliver its curriculum without the community
groups. This is not accurate. In our opinion, if the community groups vanished tomorrow, the
school districts would continue delivering a high quality teaching & learning program with no
decline in student performance.
Please do not misunderstand our position. We applaud the work of the community groups and
the partnerships that we currently enjoy with them along with the supplemental experiences
they provide for our students. But, what continues to be troubling are the processes of the EFB.
In its present form, community groups receive a higher priority than the school districts,
because they are heard first and are receiving their funding without having to compete against
the school district requests.
Therefore, since the recommendations of the superintendents, principals and staff are not
being supported by the fund board and commission, for the 2016-17 school year the Steamboat
Springs administrative team has decided to redefine their partnership with the community

groups that deliver these programs within our schools. Redefining the partnerships should
mean more half cent sales tax funds coming to the schools to deliver our priority programs to
the students of which we are accountable to and entrusted to provide a high quality education.
Hayden and Soroco administrative teams are considering the same approach.
In addition, should the EFB decide to award the $97,000 (or other significant portion) request to
Partners, the Steamboat Springs School District will discontinue the mentor program for 201617. Hayden and Soroco are seriously considering doing the same. There are several reasons
for this response. They are:

Just as Partners is advocating on behalf of its organization and services, we as superintendents
have an obligation to advocate on behalf of our districts. It is very simple, our districts have
significant needs that are a much higher priority than the supplemental services Partners
delivers.

Partners was informed that no additional funds would be forthcoming from the districts. With the
EFB providing funding to Partners by subtracting available monies from the districts, it is
contrary to the superintendents’ communication to Partners as well as the partnership that we
thought existed between us. As such, it is without authority, collaboration, and partnership for
Partners to now become a competitor with its Routt County school district partners, especially
during a time of serious fiscal concern within each of those school districts.

Providing this level of funding to a community group due to loss of funding from other sources is
a concerning precedent and is not the responsibility of Routt County school districts.

The districts recognize the role of the community groups, like Partners, and EFB’s desire for
innovative grants. However, those applications need to be reviewed by the districts to ensure
that they meet the needs of the teaching and learning occurring in the districts. Since any grant
of this nature is intended to supplement a district’s program, local district staff and school
boards are ultimately accountable for these decisions to include an outside organization or staff
innovation into the classroom. District staff need to have the authority to approve, deny or revise
these requests.

For the 2017-18 school year, the school districts will be working on a process for partnering with
community groups to submit all applications for EFB funding directly to the school
districts.Those grants that are deemed a priority will then be included in the district’s’ grant
applications that are submitted to the EFB.
For the 2017-18 school year, the districts will consider requiring that community groups and
innovative grants submit their proposals directly to the school districts for review. Those grants
that are deemed a priority will be included in the district’s submittal to the EFB. We retain the
right to not partner with Community groups and innovative grants that choose to not submit their
applications to the school districts and choose to submit their applications to the EFB directly.

Finally, last spring’s request for 2016-17 by the three superintendents to delay awarding
community and innovative grants until school district grants were reviewed and awarded was
reasonable. It is our expectation that the districts be allowed to do their own prioritization of our
requests and that our prioritization of those requests be honored.
It is unfortunate that our recommendations have not been accepted, because it has now led to
partnerships that once worked well becoming competitors and adversaries. Given the political
atmosphere created by the EFB through its inconsistent processes for awarding taxpayer
dollars to Routt County School Districts as required by the Steamboat Springs voters in 1993
and 2008, we are seeing a corresponding “self-preservation” approach of our applications to the
EFB.

Sincerely,

Dr. Brad Meeks, Superintendent, Steamboat Springs
Ms. Darci Mohr, Superintendent, South Routt
Mr. Phil Kasper, Superintendent, Hayden

cc: Gary Suiter, Interim City Manager
Kim Weber, City Finance Director
Steamboat Springs City Council Members
Steamboat Springs School Board Members
South Routt School Board Members
Hayden School Board Members